Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New and Noteworthy----So You Think You Know Gettysburg?

So You Think You Know Gettysburg? : The Stories Behind The Monuments And The Men Who Fought One of America's Epic Battles, James and Suzanne Gindelsperger, J. F. Blair Publishing, index, heavily illustrated, 2010, $18.95.

Yes I do. I've taken the Gettysburg Battlefield Licenced Guide (GLBG) test twice and expect to in December 2010, like in 2008, add 6 percentage points to my first year's score. The Gindlesperger's book is a welcomed addition to my bookshelf. With 200+ entries that are illustrated with recent photographs, So You Think is a fine immersion into the battle's and the park's significant stories.

Comparing the table of contents to possible GLBG exam questions, there is a high correlation between the topics covered and the 200+ exam questions. In eleven chapters, each having its own map, So You Think is organized as both a 'ready reference' guide and tour guide book. Important sites that are usually skipped over but are in the book are the Alms House Cemetery, the Letterman hospital site, David Acheson's grave, Signal Rock, and Timber's Farm. Fortunately, there are no ghost stories and Sach's Bridge merits only a mention that if you visit it in the evening you may find ghosts hunters. Also, the comments on the Triangular Field does not mention ghosts.

Of course, So You Think is not exhaustive. The material on Iverson's Pits does not include that Gettysburg's first airport was built on the North Carolinians' assault path. But the Camp Colt marker on the left flank of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble assault path is noted. The Kuhn's Brickyard mural is shown; Jennie Wade's birthplace and the house where she was killed are both presented. Flank markers, building plaques, hospital signs, headquarters' upturned cannon barrels and the variety of markers and tables for corps, brigades and batteries are discussed. Not available from the text are the names of the sculptors of Confederate and Lincoln monuments; they are questions on the GLBG exam.

Blessedly, the Gindelspergers include the battlefield's farms which nearly always receive little recognition. Eleven farms are covered but somehow the Slyder Farm that offered cover to Federal sharpshooters in the path of the Longstreet's assault on the Round Tops. Overall, So You Think is an attractive addition to the bookshelves of those visiting the park or studying for the exam. On the GLBG exam there are 20 black and white photocopies of monuments. They are the bane of this test taker. I suspect that the majority of those monuments that are used for the exam can be found in So You Think.

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